Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has reached a tentative agreement with the parent company of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals to move those teams from the District of Columbia to what he called a new “visionary sports and entertainment venue” in northern Virginia.
The proposal, which would need the state legislature’s approval, calls for the creation of a $2 billion sports and entertainment district south of Washington in Alexandria, just miles from the existing arena, Youngkin said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of a news conference planned on Dec. 13 at the site. It would include not only an arena for the basketball and hockey teams but also a new Wizards practice facility, a separate performing arts center, a media studio, new hotels, a convention center, housing and shopping, he said.
Youngkin’s office says the proposed 9-million-sq. ft. entertainment district would be developed by JBG SMITH, a publicly traded real estate firm that is also the developer of Amazon’s new headquarters in neighboring Arlington..
“The Commonwealth will now be home to two professional sports teams, a new corporate headquarters, and over 30,000 new jobs – this is monumental,” Youngkin said in a statement.
Youngkin says he will finance the project by asking the Virginia General Assembly in the 2024 session to approve the creation of a Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority. This will be a public entity with the ability to issue bonds, that would be repaid partly by the project’s tax revenues.
The Republican governor and former business executive began talks with Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis about the possible move over the summer, The Associated Press has reported.
“He said the state, the city and the company want to move forward with the project. It would be located in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria, near Virginia Tech’s ambitious Innovation Campus, an under-construction graduate school focused on technology,” the published report says.
“We have reached a very clear understanding, really subject to finalizing the General Assembly’s work,” Youngkin said.
Leonsis praised the proposal in a statement provided by Youngkin’s office that stopped short of explicitly saying the teams would leave D.C.
“The opportunity to expand to this 70-acre site in Virginia, neighboring industry-leading innovators, and a great academic partner, would enable us to further our creativity and achieve next-generation, leading work — all while keeping our fans and the community at the forefront of everything we do,” he said.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser tried to get ahead of the announcement earlier in the week with a $500 million counterproposal to keep the teams at a modernized Capital One Arena.
This will go against the planned development in Alexandria, which the Virginia State administration expects to generate a combined 12 billion for the state and city of Alexandria in the coming decades, while creating around 30,000 new jobs, Youngkin’s office said in a statement. Subject to legislative approval, it would break ground in 2025 and open in late 2028.
The district would be accessible by “all modes of transportation,” Youngkin’s office said in the statement, including from a newly opened Metro station. It would be located along the Potomac, just across the water from Washington, in Potomac Yard, just south of Reagan National Airport.